Floridians React To Supreme Court LGBT Employment Ruling

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled LGBT workers are included in the nation’s civil rights laws thus banning discrimination in employment and putting Pride month into a much more celebratory mood.

In the case, Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, in a 6-3 vote, SCOTUS ruled firing someone for being LGBT is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. 

“An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote for the majority.

In a virtual press conference presented by Equality Florida on Monday, civil rights advocates commented on the important decision by the high court. 

“In the clearest language possible, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that discrimination against LGBTQ people is sex discrimination. It is time for Florida to make explicit in our state statutes what the highest court in the land has said is already the law,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith wrote.

She added, in his opinion, Justice Gorsuch wrote, "The answer is clear. An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."

Smith said the Supreme Court’s ruling reflects where the majority of Floridians and the country stands on protections for the LGBT community. 

“Now, we need our state and local leaders to ensure this understanding of sex discrimination, inclusive of LGBTQ people, is explicitly included in all the places sex discrimination is forbidden,” she said. “This incredible victory comes at a moment when the nation is grappling with what equality and justice really mean. This moment of victory helps fortify us for the struggle that continues.”

Business owners, health care representatives and community activists joined the Zoom press conference on the ruling Monday. Collectively, they advocated in support of Florida following the Supreme Court’s lead and implementing change.

SAVE Executive Director Orlando Gonzales said his organization is looking forward to the “opportunity to take this federal ruling and make sure that we codify the laws at the local and state level and really be able to push forward in a way that provides full equality for our community.”

Smith called the ruling a watershed moment and a tremendous victory. She said efforts will be put into action in Tallahassee where momentum is gaining. 

“We have a long-held belief that success should be about the quality of someone’s work,” said Ann Ruth, Chief Human Resource Officer for Florida Blue. “Equality and inclusion are important parts of how we stay competitive in the recruiting space. We value diversity and stand for inclusion.”

Ruth said through the LGBT community and Black Lives Matter movements, Florida Blue has “intentionally embraced a culture where all team members can be their best selves at work.”

John Tonnison, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Tech Data, said his company is headquartered in Florida and the Supreme Court’s ruling carries huge weight professionally and personally. Tech Data, Tonnison said, does business globally in 14 countries. 

“One of our core values is inclusion and because of that we’ve been supporting the mission for legislation and clarification of laws in this way for a very long time,” said Tonnison.